Like many working professionals and entrepreneurs, I struggle with my need to build things and create value in society with my desire to play with my children and meet my responsibility of parenting.
But it dawned on me recently that nothing could require more entrepreneurial skill and offer more entrepreneurial gratification than parenting.
There is no leadership position more challenging. There is no project where the results of your efforts will be more apparent. There is no business where you can use your talents with such a lack of constraints.
For parents who stay at home or the parents who work, we must remind ourselves of the incredibly entrepreneurial nature of the work of leading, teaching, molding our children. Besides involved parenting being a responsibility of having kids in the first place, it can also be the best outlet for our entrepreneurial tendencies. [I am focusing on the responsibilities of parenting – and the gratification within this realm- rather than the many other aspects of parenting that are incredible in other ways; such as what you learn from your children or just the immense amount of fun being around them. I am focusing on the aspect/gratification of building them up and seeing your efforts bear fruit over time.]
My kids are still young and they will always be evolving, but at some point in my life I will know whether I made a positive impact on the degree that they are contented, compassionate, confident people. And I realize right now, that when that moment occurs – when I genuinely feel that I have made a positive impact on their lives – that it will be a bigger rush and more gratifying feeling than any business I have built or any deal I have closed.
I work full time so my ability to make an impact and to experience a sense of accomplishment is much less than what my wife’s, who is involved in our children’s lives a lot more than me. I admire the hard work she has to put in and how much patience and discipline she needs to muster on a daily basis to be a constant leader. But I also see that she is an incredible entrepreneur with our children. She is constantly improving her skills, learning from other people, experimenting with new ideas. Taking the time to communicate effectively. Having the stamina to keep going on during tough times. In the end, she is developing people. Per Jack Welch, a leader must have that innate ability to know when to push and when to hug.
Needless to say, the in-the-moment benefit of being with one’s children and having fun with them is as gratifying as the process. But I think the most gratifying will be to see the rewards later on of how I have contributed to the type of human being my children have become.
It’s a competitive world no matter what your philosophy on work/life balance. So I’m not telling people to work less if you need to do it to put the bread on the table or lay the foundation for other opportunities. But, I also know there are many parents that work unnecessary hours due to the addiction to the process or a feeling that it is an entrepreneurial outlet they need to feel gratified.
I guess I’m writing more than I need to. My point is just that what could be more entrepreneurial than parenting?